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Waste-free chemistry. Rosatom works during the disaster in Usolye-Sibirskoye

December 1, 2021 by Posted in: Lyrics

Weekly “Arguments and Facts” No. 48. Not cheap help 01/12/2021

Urgent work to eliminate the accumulated harm in Usolye-Sibirskoye is nearing completion. In the city, there is no longer any danger of the release of acid fog, mercury contamination of groundwater or the ingress of oil products into the Angara and the Bratsk reservoir. However, there is still a lot to do & ndash; to recycle all the fuels and lubricants and chemicals thrown here, to clean the land and buildings from mercury, to revive the industrial cluster. & nbsp;

fuels and lubricants & ndash; underground

The very name of the city is associated with the main local raw materials & ndash; rock salt. The reserves of its deposit were enough for 100 years of intensive production, but everything ended earlier, although salt is still being mined. The chemical enterprise in Usolye-Sibirskoye started working in 1936 and then grew into the Usolye production association Khimprom, which consisted of 7 plants and became one of the leaders of the chemical industry in the USSR. In its best years, 12 thousand people worked here.

With such a city-forming giant, the city lived quite well. And although the raw materials with which they worked, and the products that were produced, belonged to especially hazardous substances, and the technologies used were by no means the cleanest (from the point of view of today), the ecological situation was quite calm.

But new times have come with new owners. And on the site of the state association, a private LLC Usoliekhimprom appeared, which was declared bankrupt in 2014. It dumped wastewater into the Angara in three outlets. The treatment facilities could not cope with the treatment of industrial effluent, and then the production wastes began to be placed in various containers and left on the territory of the industrial site. And this is chlorine & shy; organic compounds, which when depressurizing barrels not intended for storage can form clouds that are deadly for people. & Nbsp;

When there was nowhere to place containers with organochlorine, they found a new place – ndash; deep voids (more than 100 m), formed underground after the extraction of salt. Production mud was pumped through the wells. In prin & shy; tsipe, deep disposal of waste & ndash; known method. But only the wells must then be sealed with a thick layer of concrete. They remained open here.

In 2018 & ndash; 2019. due to the depressurization of the tanks, there were emissions of asphyxiant silicon tetrachloride (poisonous in large volumes), and from open wells & ndash; epichlorohydrin, which causes negative processes in the lungs, up to cancer.

The new owners did not send used fuels and lubricants (fuels and lubricants) for recycling (you have to pay for this) & ndash; they were also left on the territory of the enterprise. Tanks. Or they were also poured into wells, as a result of which an oil lens (lake) of 2.5 thousand tons of oil products was formed underground just a few tens of meters from the river. They seeped into the Angara with groundwater.

Some of the containers with fuels and lubricants during the bankruptcy of the enterprise, again, in order not to be disposed of, were simply buried with lids down: they say, the lids will rust, and the contents will leak into the ground. And some are already rusted …

Many turned out to be hungry for scrap metal. Since the area was not properly guarded, there were metalworkers who tore the lids off the hydrochloric acid barrels. & Nbsp;

Mercury & ndash; into the sludge tank

But the most serious pollution is & ndash; mercury. It was used in the manufacturing process to produce chlorine. 'Mercury earth' in the area of ​​the shop & shy; and mercury electrolysis & ndash; this is the harm already accumulated over many years of production activity. Particles of metal have penetrated into the building structures & shy; tion of buildings & ndash; balls of mercury literally rolled on the walls.

The Institute of Geochemistry of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences has been monitoring the waters of the Angara and the Bratsk reservoir since 1992. High mercury contamination was recorded in bottom sediments, water and fish. Exceeding the permissible residual concentration of mercury pollution in fish is observed up to the upper part of the reservoirs & shy; a.

The industrial site of Usoliekhimprom, located only 70 km from Irkutsk, is recognized as an area of ​​ecological disaster, and the President of the country on July 30, 2020 instructed Rosatom take urgent measures to eliminate the most difficult objects and reclaim its entire territory. & nbsp;

'The barrel was burning & nbsp; from water'

Since then, the Federal Environmental Operator (FEO) has undertaken this task & ndash; a subdivision of the state corporation specializing in the neutralization and processing of waste of I and II hazard classes, reclamation of their storage sites. The Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Defense (the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops), and the Russian Guard also joined in. The work is carried out within the framework of the federal project “ Clean Country '' (included in the national project “ Ecology ''). By the end of 2024, as planned, the territory will be brought into a safe state and a new modern production cluster will be created on it.

First of all, the industrial site was isolated, and the Russian Guard took it under & shy; protection.

“ In an extremely emergency mode, for 3 – 4 months, they found 17 emergency tanks hidden in the ground, filled with unknown substances. All were opened in compliance with safety measures or samples were taken from the cracks. Samples were brought to us to determine the content. After all, everything that was needed was poured into the barrels: completely different substances, which then entered into reactions with each other. We worked in a round & shy; daily mode & raquo ;, & ndash; recalls the director of the Irkutsk Institute of Chemistry. Favorsky Andrey Ivanov .

One container, according to his words “ m, '' was on fire from water, and scientists according to “ shy; spent 24 hours to determine its contents. It turned out that these are complex oxides of silicon & shy; I & ndash; decomposition products. Irkutsk scientists were helped by colleagues from other cities & ndash; arranged a consultation & shy; s, sorted out the options of what could give such unusual from the point of view of chemistry result & shy; s. & nbsp;

Analysis of building structures & ndash; only in chemical protection suits. Photo: FEO press service

Having established the composition, they decided how to open the tank. And when they opened it, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the RChBZ troops in chemical protection suits made water or alkaline curtains to prevent chemicals from spreading throughout the district. And the inspectors of Rosprirod & shy; supervision and Rospotrebnadzor monitored the composition of air, soil, surface and ground waters.

The chemicals were re-loaded into thick 275-liter drums covered with pressurized polymers & ndash; this protection is resistant to aggressive environments. Each barrel is signed, that is, the contents are known. In the future, all this hazardous waste will be recycled.

How to collect the metal?

When we were dismantled with the tanks, we proceeded to the wells. It was determined that the organochlorine merged into them turned into salt and glycerin & ndash; this means that it does not pose a danger to the soil. And they plugged 12 wells with 15-meter & shy; concrete plugs.

But with an oil lens, the situation is dangerous. It is too close to the river, which washes away the bank. Therefore, a sheet pile wall was installed & ndash; it strengthened the soil and became a constipation for oil products. They have already begun to be pumped out and taken out for processing at the Angarsk refinery. But this is not a quick matter, it will last another year or two.

In addition, local treatment facilities have been launched. Together, this eliminated the threat of a salvo discharge of & shy; nave & shy; those & shy; products in & shy; pool & shy; Hangars.

What about mercury? The building of the shop for mercury electrolysis & ndash; the main source of its pollution of the environment & ndash; dismantled and carried out demercurization (removal of mercury) of building structures. That is, the metal was washed off the surfaces and collected in special containers. But it still remained inside the structural elements. They were neatly folded and a filter curtain was installed around the perimeter. & Nbsp;

Rosatom connected all its resources, technological and human potential to remove the threat to the residents of Usolye-Sibirskoye. We have liquidated the most complex facilities at the industrial site of the Usolsk Khimprom. Now a project is being prepared for the reclamation of the territory for the revival of an industrial cluster on it '', & ndash; told AiF director of the direction for the implementation of state and sectoral programs in the field of ecology of the state corporation Andrey Lebedev.

A plant has already been designed, which will deal with the processing of industrial waste accumulated in Usolye-Sibirskoye. For those containing mercury, an indirect thermal desorption unit is provided & ndash; in it it will be possible to heat any sludge to a very high temperature, after which it will become a dangerous building material without & shy; You can also heat the soil & ndash; to clean it up and then put it back in place.

The indirect thermal desorption method was chosen because it is recognized as the safest thermal method. In this case, the outer surface of the heating chamber is heated, and heat is transferred through its walls to the material contaminated with mercury inside. Neither the flame of the burners nor the smoke comes into contact with it, which prevents contamination of the exhaust gases. & Nbsp;

In the course of thermal desorption, it is possible to maximally extract mercury and its compounds from contaminated materials, as well as to separate them from waste gases in the course of their condensation. This method should not be confused with conventional incineration & ndash; in contrast, thermal desorption removes the desorbed contaminants from the gases rather than being destroyed during incineration.


The total size of land plots in the territory of the former Usoliekhimprom; & ndash; 6.1 sq. km, building area & ndash; 610 hectares. There are 565 real estate objects on the territory of the industrial site. The sanitary protection zone is set at 1500 m. The total size of the territories exposed to chemical pollution is & ndash; 20 sq. km.

What kind of waste management system is being created?

To prevent a situation similar to Usolskaya from happening elsewhere (and there are a lot of chemical plants in the country), a bill is currently being developed that will not allow the owners of enterprises and facilities of accumulated environmental damage to abandon them to their fate. & Nbsp;

Accounting and control

To solve the problem of pollution of industrial sites, it is necessary to modernize the very procedure for handling waste of I and II hazard classes. The state realized that it needs a “ one window '' for all market participants & ndash; industrial manufacturers, processing and transportation operators. This “ window '' became the Federal ecological operator.

Nuclear workers know how to work with hazardous waste & ndash; Therefore, a division of Rosatom was chosen, which will keep track of and control the life cycle of such waste, as well as carry out their efficient and safe processing, obtaining secondary resources at the output. The new order will come into force on March 1, 2022

In order to increase the efficiency of accounting and management of waste streams, a federal state information system for accounting and control over the management of waste of I and II classes has been created & ndash; FSIS OPVK. It will start working in December this year. And from March 1, 2022, all operations with hazardous and highly hazardous waste will be carried out only through this platform.

From March 1, 2022, enterprises will have to post there information about the generation of waste of I and II classes, and then transfer them to the processing of FEO (with the exception of those where waste is recycled independently). Well, the operator, in turn, will conclude contracts for recycling and transportation of waste with organizations that have the appropriate licenses.

dynamics and in real time. & nbsp;

Valuable recyclable materials

But accounting and control & ndash; only half the battle. Therefore, another important area will be the construction of a modern processing infrastructure, which will maximize the extraction of useful components for further use in production. This is the so-called principle of recycling, when waste from some stages of production becomes raw material for others, and nothing needs to be buried.

For example, the products of processing a mixture of inorganic salts, oxides, hydroxides, acids are metal hydroxides, sodium and potassium salts, metallic copper, ammonium chlorides and sulfates. All of them can be widely applied in various industries. So, metal oxides & ndash; in the metallurgical and chemical industry, salt concentrates (a mixture of chlorides, nitrates and sulfates, technical salt) & ndash; in the chemical industry for the production of individual salts, as well as in the agrochemical industry, during the regeneration of ion-exchange resins in boiler rooms, for the production of drilling fluids. Metallic copper can be used in metallurgy, electronics, automotive, cable and wire manufacturing.

This should be the chain. It will reduce the accumulation of waste and prevent the formation of objects of accumulated harm to the environment, which will significantly improve the environmental situation in the country. & Nbsp;

The containers in which chemicals are now stored are covered with sealed polymers & nbsp; & ndash; such protection is resistant to & nbsp; aggressive environments. Photo: press service of FEO

The state has returned

So, Usolye-Sibirskoye got rid of the status of an ecological disaster territory. But what will happen next with the former “ Khimprom ''?

All plans for the future of this territory are based on what Vladimir Putin drew attention to when he gave instructions to eliminate the accumulated harm there.

“ When carrying out work, when creating new production facilities, it is necessary to actively provide jobs to those who live here, & ndash; he stressed. & ndash; Be sure to orient yourself, look at this, think about training and retraining programs for personnel in demand or for those that will be in demand. ''

In general, the situation itself & ndash; it is in a sense a return. Indeed, while the enterprise was state-owned, the ecological situation here (with all the reservations about the imperfection of old technologies) was, according to scientists, rather calm. The necessary precautions were taken. And when it became frequent, an orgy began, leading to environmental disaster.

In order to revive the production cluster after cleaning and provide the local chemists with work, the Vostok eco-technopark has been designed and is being examined. It will first process the waste accumulated in Usolye-Sibirskoye, and then deal with industrial waste from other enterprises of the Irkutsk region & ndash; metallurgical and chemical industries. The processing will use modern technologies that are safe for the environment. & Nbsp;

This means that the residents of the city will be provided with a job they are familiar with. After all, family dynasties of chemists have already formed here, represented by three generations, which, given the youth of the industry & ndash; rarity. This is what the president pointed out when he spoke of the high human potential in Usolye-Sibirskoye.

“Ecotechnopark will become one of the most modern enterprises in the country and will be aimed at obtaining useful products from waste, & ndash; says A. Lebedev. & ndash; It is necessary to breathe new life into Usolye-Sibirskoye, and the city already has everything for this. We want to create jobs specifically for the residents of Usol, we involve the educational and scientific community in order to train personnel here for future productions. ''


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